Larry Begley, an esteemed startup investor, financial expert, and a Boston tech veteran, joined Abacus Insights in January as CFO. His first order of business? Team up with CEO Dr. Minal Patel to raise the healthcare startup’s Series A.
Six months and $12.7 million later, Begley checked that off his list, calling it a sure sign that Abacus was “on to something special.”
Now Begley, Patel, and their 40ish-person team plan to double in size by the end of 2019.
“We are on a mission to disrupt the payer, versus the provider, side of the healthcare equation, improving people’s lives by creating a more personalized patient experience, improving quality outcomes for patients, and lowering the overall cost of healthcare,” said Begley.
We caught up with Begley, who got to be choosey with his next position after successfully exiting CloudHealth Technologies for over $500 million nearly a year ago, to learn more about his path to Abacus, the impact their data integration solution will have on healthcare, and how the company plans to ensure its impact is felt in the field.
What about Abacus Insights inspired you to join the team in January?
I took a few months off after CloudHealth’s successful exit and looked at many local CFO opportunities. I was seeking a company that had many of CloudHealth’s characteristics, including a world class executive team, the ability to solve a huge problem with a disruptive technology solution, great investors, strong early revenue traction, and a fun and passionate culture. I wanted to join a company that had the opportunity to get very big, very fast! Abacus checked all of those boxes.
What were some of the biggest challenges the company faced as a new business? What did your team learn as a result?
As a company that started in mid-2017 and was seeking large, multi-year engagements, the key was for us to secure our first anchor clients. Sales cycles in the healthcare industry are long, particularly for a young company with a revolutionary approach to solving one of healthcare’s biggest problems: unlocking the value of payers’ vast amounts of insightful data that is trapped in siloed internal and external legacy systems. We overcame this initial sales challenge by landing our first large clients in late 2018. That process uncovered a lot of good learnings, one of which was to be patient. Selling into payers involves cultivating prospect relationships over an extended period of time. The good news is, once you’ve secured a large client, the magnitude of the deal makes it worth the wait!
How has Abacus Insights grown since its launch, both internally and as a solution?
In less than two years, we’ve secured a number of huge multi-year contracts that have fueled our growth and made us a very attractive investment opportunity. Our technology platform has also evolved substantially. One of our commitments to our clients is that we will constantly be looking to the next innovation to ensure our platform remains leading-edge — meeting their needs not just now, but in the future. The pace of innovation in the cloud is astounding, and we enjoy working hard to stay out in front of the newest ways to deliver client value.
I’m most excited that [we] have all of the characteristics, including extraordinarily talented and caring people, to have the same or better outcome than the most successful exits I’ve been associated with in my career.”
Speaking of investors, congrats on the Series A! What were investors most eager about with Abacus’s solution?
The reception we received in the venture community was outstanding, and the fundraising process personally helped me validate that we were on to something special. At the end of the day, we were thrilled to select venture capital powerhouse CRV as our lead investor, and they have been an incredible partner since making their investment. We were also excited that both .406 and Echo participated in the A round, as they have been loyal and supportive partners since the company’s founding.
Our investors were attracted to Abacus for many reasons: we are playing in a huge and growing market where there is immense opportunity; we have deep healthcare payer experience teamed with cutting-edge cloud engineering and product management groups; impressive revenue traction and a strong pipeline; and lastly, Abacus is led by an experienced leadership team with deep domain knowledge.
How will the funding help lead the company through its next growth stage?
The primary purpose of raising the Series A was to allow us to scale rapidly and add talented professionals who are looking to make a difference in tackling one of the thorniest problems facing our healthcare system. We are headquartered in New York but we are building our technology, engineering, product, and finance and admin teams here in Boston.
What are you most excited about for the future of your company?
I’m most excited that Abacus has all of the characteristics, including extraordinarily talented and caring people, to have the same or better outcome than the most successful exits I’ve been associated with in my career. As a young company, we validated product market fit in short order, secured significant funding, and now a lot of our future success is dependent on execution. Every employee at Abacus is maniacally focused on thrilling our clients and making contributions every day to increase the value of the company.